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Hot Design Thrives in New Hampshire

by Amelia Gray
Fashion Career Center Columnist

From bikinis to Braille necklaces, New Hampshire fashion designers surprise their clients with beautiful, eclectic designs.

Tourists enjoy New Hampshire for its winter skiing, but they may not know that New Hampshire is also a destination for hot design. Fashion designers in New Hampshire design clothes and accessories perfect for every season.

Summer Fashion Sisters
Lisa Letarte Cabrinha and Michele Letarte Ross are living a dream shared by many young fashion designers: they run a family business, creating fashion designs with a worldwide appeal. For these two sisters and New Hampshire natives, creating their Letarte fashion line was the culmination of a shared effort.

The Letarte clothing line features wraps, bathing suits, dresses, and tops, all with slim silhouettes, hand-beaded or fringed trims, and pretty embroidery. Lisa, a pro windsurfer, came up with the idea behind the company when she saw a need for functional yet beautiful swimwear and accessories. For fashion design school graduates, finding a need and filling it is one of the most important aspects of a successful business.

Today, Lisa designs the line from her Maui home and ships the ideas to Michele, who runs the marketing aspect of Letarte in Fairfield, CT, and New York City. These two sisters prove that a successful family business can be a fashionable affair.

From Discarded Junk to Fashion Accessory
Kim Christiansen's art pieces have been called groundbreaking. This New Hampshire artist takes mundane pieces of everyday life and elevates them into the realm of art. His rubbings-turned-art of New Orleans manhole covers sell at fundraisers for Katrina relief, and a pair of his Braille earrings has been placed in permanent collection at the Smithsonian.

Kim's designs are based on his artistic vision, and the results are appreciated as art as well as fashion. His fans claim that, after experiencing Kim's urban-inspired art, it's impossible to walk down a city street without thinking of him.

Two designers, two very different approaches. New Hampshire fashion design school students can follow the business-savvy Letarte, whose clothing answers a specific need. Or they can draw inspiration from Christiansen, who has built his success on his own terms.

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About the Author :
Amelia Gray is a teacher and freelance writer based in San Marcos, Texas. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from Arizona State University.